3 books for observation & recording

This trio of forthcoming titles provides resources to help you improve your ability to observe and record the world about you. I find inspiration in nature. However, lately I feel that I’m oblivious to much of what’s in front of my nose. I’m not seeing, I’m not sketching, I’m not recording, and I’m definitely not analyzing what I see. I believe these books will help me improve my fluency in these skills, and they can help you as well.

Dare to Sketch: A Guide to Drawing on the Go

by Felix Scheinberger
Ten Speed Press
to be published September 2017

When I was first learning how to use watercolours, I read Scheinberger’s earlier book Urban Watercolor Sketching and found it helpful. While I keep a mini watercolor set in my bag, I rarely pull it out to sketch. This is odd as I have no difficulty pulling out a regular notebook and taking notes anywhere.

I was excited to receive an eARC of this new title and Scheinberger has done it again, he provides useful tips to help one get past the blank page and find freedom in sketching. While I have my own tricks for overcoming the first page in a new notebook, I like the tip of not starting anywhere near the first page and not sketching each page chronologically. This book covers everything: choosing a sketchbook, tool basics, and how to sketch everything from people to time.

While you may not want to learn to emulate Scheinberger’s style, there are many useful tips for developing your own while sketching urban and natural settings. There are tips for how to apply color. There are even ideas for how to incorporate digital media to your sketchbook. I look forward to seeing how this book helps me Dare to Sketch.

The Naturalist’s Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World around You

by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright, Bernd Heinrich
Storey Publishing
to be published October 2017

Are you a citizen scientist who wants to take your observations to the next level? Do you have a little one in your life who wants to be more systematic about what they see? Do you love notebooks? This is a title that belongs in every hand and out in the woods, in parks, and in every back yard. Why? Not only do Wheelwright and Heinrich bring their experiences to explaining how you learn to observe nature, they give you a simple notebook to use to begin immediately to record your observations. Each year I say “this year I’ll write about the birds at the feeder”, however I become overwhelmed by what to write and how to write it, so nothing gets recorded beyond a few photos I post to Instagram.

This title provides useful tips whether you’ve been systematically observing nature for 30 years or are new to taking notice beyond when the first robin appears in your yard. In addition to explanations as to how to grow observational skills, you also learn how to take notes and record observations. There are simple experiment ideas that I believe are a great not only for little ones, but also adults.

The title also includes with a simple 5-year journal to record observations. I this this is a wonderful pairing of topic, form, and function. It is a beautifully laid out book, I love the illustrations, and the journal is begging for me to write what I see. I highly recommend The Naturalist’s Notebook for everyone curious about honing this skill!

A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom

by Matt Sewell
Ten Speed Press
to be published September 2017

This is an adorable book that gathers collective nouns of the animal kingdom and pairs them with Sewell’s art. While short, it is a fun and whimsical book that would make a cute gift. Additionally, it could help you to describe your natural observations or it provide examples of other styles to sketch.

I received eARCs of these titles from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

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